A brave front-running performance by underrated New Zealand galloper Sergio was rewarded with a first victory at stakes level when he took out the Listed Manawatu ITM Anzac Mile (1550m) at Awapuni on Sunday.
The Chrissy Bambry-trained four-year-old had bounced back to winning form on Easter Monday with a similar display in lesser company at Woodville and backed that effort up with another gritty showing that saw him hold out the challenges of Cambridge raiders Providenceprovides and Zee Falls to register the fourth and most important victory of his 12-start career.
Bred by the late Kevin Pratt under his Kamada Bloodstock banner and sporting his distinctive black colours, rider Chris Dell and Sergio put the pedal to the metal from barrier rise as the son of Swiss Ace defied his chasers attempts to run him down.
Sergio responded gamely when asked to kick on the home bend and he had too much up his sleeve as he provided Bambry with consecutive victories on the day after she produced intermediate galloper Kingfisher Lad to win over 2100m in the previous event.
Bambry, who registered her 15th win for the season and third at black type level, was delighted to see how much fight her charge exhibited when challenged in the straight.
“The penny has finally dropped with the big doofus,” she said good naturedly.
“He is not a horse that generally backs up as quick as this as he has been a late maturer who was injured as a yearling, so I'm always mindful of that.
“I babied him all week and worked him on the water treadmill and took a blood off him just to make sure he was coping.
“His blood was absolutely spot on and he was zooming around his paddock like a lunatic which gave me plenty of confidence and he has gone out and justified running him with a really top performance.”
Bambry believes that with further maturity, Sergio can go on and perform at the highest levels in the future.
“He is a huge horse, 17 hands high and over 560kgs,” she said.
“Jockeys tell me they never quite know how fast they are going as he has such a huge stride.
“He loves to get out in front and just roll along, where he sustains a very high cruising speed.
“Now that the penny has dropped, I can see him going on with it in his next campaign.
“He can have a week in the paddock now and if the weather stays okay, we might give him one more start in the Rangitikei Cup (Listed, 1600m) at Trentham later next month.
“If the weather packs it in then he can take a longer break and then we will just get him on the water treadmill and tick him along before we get serious in the spring.”
Sergio became Kamada Bloodstock's 100th race winner when he led all the way in last Monday's Woodville-Pahiatua Cup (1600m).
He is out of the Lonhro mare Shanro and is the younger half-brother of Listed Timaru Stakes (1400m) winner Windsor, while he hails from the extended family of multiple Australian Group Two winner Camena who was also placed on two occasions at Group One level.